The Parkland school shooter who murder nearly twenty students and staff has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Nikolas Cruz, 24, opened fire for around nine minutes at his former Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, leaving 17 dead and another 17 injured. He used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The families of the victims filled the courtroom as Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer read out his sentence.
Cruz had plead guilty to all charges. Some families had previously expressed disgust and disappointment that he had not been given the death sentence, with some of Cruz’s victims being aged just 14.
Families gave emotional statements during the sentencing hearing.
Victoria Gonzalez, the mother of Joaquin Oliver, 17, said: “My justice does not lie in knowing if you live or if you die. My justice lives in knowing that I loved.”
Meanwhile, mum Lori Alhadeff described the moment she saw her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa’s dead body.
She said: “I tried to warm her body with my hands. She was so cold. I remember that I touched her in the multiple areas where Alyssa was shot … All I wanted to do was bring Alyssa back to life.”
Fred Guttenberg, father of victim Jaime, 14, had previously spoken out about his frustration that Cruz would not be given the death penalty for his horrific crime.
He said on October 13, shortly after the decision was reached: “I could not be more disappointed in what happened today.”
Mr Guttenberg went on to call on Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes, who had defended Cruz, to resign.
He said: “You did your job, you got him from not getting the death penalty. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves.”
Police failed to respond to multiple warning signs about the threat Cruz posed.
The authorities were regularly called to Cruz’ house, and were reportedly concerned with his behaviour.
He attended a school for children with behavioural problems after being diagnosed with ADHD, autism, and obsessive compulsive disorder – but his behaviour worsened as he increasingly wanted to return to Stoneman High School.
His mother’s friend took him in after she passed away in 2017, but he lasted there for just a month due to his desire to own a large stash of guns. The friend called 911 on three separate occasions out of fear for what he might do.
By the time of the shooting, he was living with a schoolfriend’s family, and purchased a the weapon within three days. Just before the shooting, the killer recorded three videos on his phone in which he said he wanted to be remembered for the horrific violence he was about to inflict.
He carried the semi-automatic rifle and 300 rounds of ammunition as he walked into the high school, before opening fire on teachers and students in the hallways.
After shooting people from the doorway, he then returned to people he had killed to shoot them again. He then abandoned the gun, tactical vest and ammunition, and casually walked to McDonald’s, where CCTV shows him grabbing a bite to eat with his sister’s friend.
An hour later, he was arrested.
His victims were: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Scott Beigel, 35; Martin Duque, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Aaron Feis, 37; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Christopher Hixon, 49; Luke Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 15.